ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – As gas prices continue to skyrocket, a gallon of fuel is closing in on $5 a gallon in New Mexico. Now, desperate thieves are looking to steal it right from the victim’s gas tanks, leaving some drivers without fuel, transportation, and thousands of dollars.

Local mechanics say it is a growing problem. David Shulz, Owner of Klinks Auto Repair says he’s repaired around six cars with fuel tank damage. “We’ve had a few of them where they’ve come in damaged the bottom of the tank stealing the gas out; they’re not really siphoning it they’re actually damaging the tanks.” Schulz said.”

Thursday afternoon, Albuquerque resident Mike Magallon says he fell victim to the crime after stepping out of work. “Went out there, parking lot had a bunch of gas on it and we had to push the truck out of the gas so I could look under and there was a hole about the size of a nickel and the tank was empty,” said Magallon. Wanting to stay a step ahead of criminals, Magallon says he recently installed a gas cap with a lock.

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While that may have slowed down the thieves it didn’t stop them. They just drilled straight into his gas tank. “They saw an opportunity, they saw an easy target, an easy mark and I really don’t know. Who knows why they do it, probably a million reasons for them, I don’t even want to think about them. This is probably going to cost a whole paycheck for me, said Magallon. 

As mechanics see a rise in crime, one says if thieves want the gas nothing will prevent them from taking it. “Locking gas caps is still good, I wouldn’t say not to use it, but if they want the gas they’re going to drill a hole right through the tank,” said Shulz. Mechanics say these repairs can cost around $1600 dollars to fix all depending on the damage and type of vehicle. 

Magallon says the damage will most likely cost him his whole paycheck which he cannot afford to pay. The Albuquerque Police Department says although they’ve heard about this issue emerging, it’s not a problem they track.